Report: Segregation and Peers’ Characteristics in the 2010-2011 Kindergarten Class (EPI)

With income inequality at record levels, the interactions between poverty and race remain strong and troubling and continue to impede educational progress for many students. As scholars document the connections between neighborhood and school-level segregation, it is important that we better understand how both affect schools and students. This report uses data from a representative cohort of students entering kindergarten. The report describes how segregated schools are both by race and income, by comparing the racial and socioeconomic status composition of those kindergarten classes with what they would look like if they represented the characteristics of the U.S. student body overall. The report then explores the differences in student’s other characteristics based on the racial makeup of their own classes. Finally the report analyzes how the children’s academic performance changes over the first year. The bottom line of the findings is that, while race is not the real “culprit” in education, racial status is so strongly determinative of a minority child’s peers’ other characteristics—especially parental and family background—that integrating schools appears key to improving odds of children’s success and increase equality among groups.

Read the report here.